How to prevent the 'smart phone squint' - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

How to prevent the 'smart phone squint'

For many of us, smart phones have become an extension of ourselves, and we find ourselves texting, tweeting, and checking email all day long and into the night.

But could this overuse of technology be causing havoc on our eyes and skin?

Sydney Duriux's job keeps her on the go. And she relies on her smart phone to keep her in the loop.

"I'm looking at my phone nearly - I would say from 9 a.m. til about 11 p.m., looking at my email on my phone or my text or I'm trying to text back or read the news," said Duriux.

But lately she's noticed some fine lines and wrinkles and she blames them on that tiny screen.

"Smart phones induce you to squint during the day time and that contracts the muscles around your face. So you contract the muscles here, you contract the muscles over here," said Dr. Lucian Del Priore, professor of ophthalmology.

Like the so-called "texting thumb," which causes frequent texters to suffer finger and wrist injuries, doctors believe the smart phone squint can lead to eye strain and dry eyes, as well as fine lines and wrinkles.

"With the ease of convenience comes some consequences," said plastic surgeon Dr. Robert Grant.

Grant says some people are even opting for so-called "Blackberry Botox" to stop the wrinkling.

"These medicines partially block the muscle from contracting and since the muscles around the eye can't contract, the fine line and wrinkle can't appear," he said.

Dr. Grant explains Retinols, both over the counter and prescription, can help reduce fine lines and wrinkles. But, he says, in this case, prevention is the best medicine.

"There's lots of things you can do to adjust the settings on your blackberry to avoid having to squint. You can make the font size bigger, have the print appear larger on the screen," he said. 

You can also turn down the lights in the room or go inside, which increases the contrast and lessens eye strain. Also, reduce the brightness setting on your phone. And don't underestimate the importance of taking a break.

"Just the simple act of looking away from the phone and looking at something in the distance - every fifteen or twenty minutes or so take away from the strain on the eye muscles," said Del Priore. "It would be the equivalent of carrying a heavy package all day and putting it down for thirty seconds and picking it back up again."

And when you can, opt to use larger screen devices, like a computer or iPad.

"The magnification is much larger on the larger devices and if you're trying to see things that are small, there's a large tendency to squint," said Del Priore. 

Now that Sydney's aware of the potential problems with excessive smart phone use, she says she'll try to cut down, if she can.

"You can turn it off sometimes I've been told," she said.

It's important to note that Dr. Del Priore says smart phone use does not cause any eye disease or degeneration. But it can exacerbate symptoms for those with existing conditions.

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